PSU Board of Trustees announces even more restrictions on Greek life

‘I am resolved to turn the pain and anguish radiating through our entire community into decisive action and reform’

What to do about Penn State’s Greek life has been a source of controversy since the hazing-related death of student Timothy Piazza. The university’s administration opted to place restrictions on the Greek life system, and by the end of March, fraternities and sororities faced a number of new rules and regulations.

The Penn State Board of Trustees met this afternoon to further discuss the fate of Greek life on campus. In a letter sent to the board prior to their meeting, Piazza’s family pleaded with them to take swift action to make sure nothing like this ever happens again: “You the BOT, have a significant obligation to do the right things, not the popular things to appease a small group of Alumni who still do not get it, to make Greek Life and all life safer at Penn State.” The letter also asked that the board hold people in the administration accountable for their role in their son’s death.

The board emerged from the meeting with a brand new set of restrictions on Greek life. According to an email sent to students of the university, these changes are meant to “augment a series of actions taken earlier this year, which are being made permanent.”

“The board supports the important actions taken today by University leadership,” said Penn State Board of Trustees Chair Ira Lubert. “We hope this is a start for our fraternities and sororities to address these serious problems and focus on the more positive contributions these individuals and organizations make here at Penn State and beyond.”

The primary restrictions being put in place are as follows:

  • University control of the fraternity and sorority organizational misconduct and adjudication process

  • Hazing that involves alcohol, physical abuse, or any behavior that puts a student’s mental or physical health at risk will result in swift permanent revocation of University recognition for the chapter involved

  • Transition to deferred recruitment/rush process for fraternities and sororities

  • Strict social restrictions

  • Monitoring of social events by University staff members

  • Relationship statement signed by all fraternity and sorority members that clarifies the respective rights and responsibilities of the University, the chapters and their respective members

  • Further parent education: availability of report card, messages to reinforce with their students

  • Capitation fee for support of extra services, spot-checkers/monitors, and educational activities

In addition, President Eric Barron will personally appoint a Greek Response Team designed to make sure these new rules are implemented properly. The team will work closely with local law enforcement, campus police and neighborhoods and will report directly to the president.

“The changes require significant shifts in the relationship among fraternities, sororities and the University,” said President Barron. Most fraternities and sororities rely on a model of self-governance, but Penn State seeks to place the power in the hands of the university instead in order to minimize issues associated with Greek life. The bulk of the new restrictions deal with moving disciplinary authority to the administration.

The university hopes that these changes will help to reform the Greek system. However, according to President Barron, “true change will not happen without the chapters, alumni boards, housing boards, councils, and national organizations commitment and partnership in putting student safety first, and encouraging chapter members to bring safety issues to the forefront.”

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